Two-time Red Bull Air Race title winner Mike Mangold was the first pilot to fly the racetrack in Japan. After he landed, we caught up with him to get his opinions.
"Despite all the adversities it's a cool, good looking track, the operation teams have done a brilliant job setting it up in time," said Mangold. "The wind seems to have died down, so it should be better for the pilots," he added.
Mangold seems to think that the trickiest part of the track will be gates three and four. "The middle gate of the chicane is quite far out, so as the pilots go through them in a left, right, left formation on the first pass they can go in quite a straight line. On the return leg of the lap, they're really going to have to work hard to get round the pylon," he explained.
Mangold also went on to explain that due to gate three, certain aircraft might find it more difficult. "The pilots in the MXS-Rs with their tall winglets might find it difficult to get close to the pylon on that tight turn of gate three, I wouldn't want to get too close if I had winglets," said Mangold.
So, what does Mike think would be a good Qualifying time for the Master Class pilots? "I flew it in the Extra in about 60 seconds , but I think with the more powerful raceplanes the pilots will be looking around the 50 second mark," concluded Mangold.